Decimated Hawks looking at other options with Handzus, Havlat out

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"We're talking to everybody," a frustrated Dale Tallon, the Hawks' GM, said Tuesday. Leading scoring Martin Havlat is out two to three weeks with a sprained right ankle and netminder Nikolai Khabibulin will be sidelined two weeks with a broken right index finger. But the biggest blow of all for the 4-4-0 Hawks was the loss of No. 1 centre Michal Handzus, who will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL and MCL in his knee.

"It's tough to swallow," Tallon said from Chicago. "Especially in our market where we're just trying to get a little bit of a buzz going here and surely and slowly we were getting the ball rolling and then this happens. It's real tough."

The Hawks, who host Vancouver on Wednesday night, recalled young forwards Dave Bolland and Mike Blunden from AHL Norfolk.

Bolland, a former London Knights forward, was taken 32nd overall in the 2004 NHL entry draft while Blunden, a former Erie Otters forward, was the 43rd overall pick in 2005.

The future is now for the prospects.

"We were hoping to keep them down until Christmas at least but we'll bring them in and see what they can do," said Tallon. "And Denis Arkhipov is going to have to step up and play more. Everybody needs to step up and contribute.

"And we're going to look at everything that's out there, see what's possible, to see if we can make a move," added Tallon. "We're going over it with a fine-tooth comb, trying to see what we can do."

The Hawks are kicking the tires on veteran centre Yanic Perreault, 35, who remains an unrestricted free agent after putting up 57 points (22-35) in 69 games with the Nashville Predators last season.

"We're talking, we'll see," Tallon said.

If the Hawks go the trade route they can't afford to give up anything significant from their NHL roster.

"We've got a lot of young prospects," said Tallon. "We'll see what happens."

Replacing Handzus won't be easy. The 6-5, 217-pound Slovak had eight points (3-5) in eight games and was doing it all for the Hawks, both on the power play and the penalty kill and taking all the big faceoffs.

"He was really playing well, logging a lot of minutes," Tallon said of the mop-haired 29-year-old. "Our fans were starting to yell out his name, 'Zeus, Zeus, Zeus' with the hair and everything. He was a solid, two-way player for us, he was really reliable in his own end. He and Marty seemed to hit it off quite well with (Radim) Vrbata.

"And we were excited before all of this happened this weekend that Tuomo Ruuttu is coming back in a week or so. We figured we'd add him to the mix and be in a pretty good shape."

Finally, Tallon figured, he'd have the No. 1 line he had dreamed up this summer: Handzus between Ruuttu and Havlat.

"Not a bad line," he said, his voice trailing off.

Ruuttu is scheduled to return sometime next week. He's been out with a sprained left knee suffered during a pre-season game last month.



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